Biden secures 100th judge, surpassing Trump

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WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s 100th federal judge Tuesday, marking a milestone for the president and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The two Democrats have made it a priority to reform American courts with judges who tend to be younger, more liberal, and more diverse — both in terms of race and ethnicity, as well as professional experience — than the current court, a Democratic-aided project. in expansion. his majority in the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

On Monday, the Senate confirmed Cindy Chung to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, making her the first Asian American to serve on that court. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 54-45 to appoint Gina Méndez-Miró as a district judge in Puerto Rico; the nomination passed a key test vote indicating that she has the necessary support to be confirmed and she will become Biden’s 100th confirmed female judge.

She will be the 69th confirmed Biden district court judge. She also won Senate approval for 30 circuit court judges and one Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“The appointment of 100 judges has already had a major impact on the judiciary, and it puts President Biden on track to appoint 200 transformational judges before the end of this term,” said Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, who opened the last week. NBC News. “As important as the number of judges is their quality, professional background and diversity. President Biden’s historic contribution to judicial appointments is not just to ‘break the mold’ of previous federal judicial elections, but to create an entirely new one.”

Biden and the Democrats are beating out former President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate; at this time, Trump had secured 85 judges. He left office with a staggering 234 new justices, the most of any president in his first four years since Jimmy Carter, thrilling the right and leaving an indelible mark on the courts with young conservative justices poised to serve for generations. Trump’s three Supreme Court justices helped overturn Roe v. Wade last summer, a breakthrough for opponents of abortion.

Democrats came to power in 2021 determined to buck that trend, choosing a list of judges considered more liberal and bringing a different kind of expertise: Biden has chosen an unusually high number of public defenders, civil rights lawyers and employment lawyers compared to their predecessors. from both sides.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Biden’s judicial nominees «radical.»

“It’s no secret that I wasn’t a fan of the Barack Obama-appointed judges,” he said Monday. “But the Obama nominees seem positively moderate and reasonable compared to the fanatics the Biden administration has fielded.”

Democrats stick together over Biden judges

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced 24 new Biden-picked justices, many along a narrow party line, preparing them for floor votes. The committee, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., plans to meet to promote more judges this week.

Not everything has been smooth sailing for Democrats on the justices. Last month, Charnelle Bjelkengren, a Biden nominee to be a district court judge in Washington, failed to answer basic questions about the Constitution from Sen. John Kennedy, R-Los Angeles, including what Article II says. And Michael Delaney, a Biden nominee for the Boston-based US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, has faced some criticism from the left about his role as a private attorney representing a private school that was sued by the family of a girl who was sexually assaulted on campus.

Durbin said Monday that he plans to move forward with both nominees.

Confirmation of the judges requires a simple majority in the Senate. Many of Biden’s justices have received some Republican support. Many others passed with only Democratic votes, without gaining the support of Republican senators who prefer judges with a narrower, more «textualist» view of constitutional interpretation.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, a conservative who sits on the Judiciary Committee, begrudgingly credited Democrats for sticking together on Biden’s picks, even in the 50-50 Senate the past two years.

“Democrats on the Judiciary Committee – I’ll give them credit, not one of them has broken with this administration on a single judge. And it’s extraordinary,” he said. “Schumer and Durbin have done this to great effect. They’ve made the judging conveyor belt move, and of course, I’m sorry.»

To outdo Trump, Biden needs justices to retire

Asked recently if Democrats hope to surpass Trump’s total of 234 judges over four Biden years, Schumer said in an interview: «Yes.»

The New York Democrat said the midterm elections helped his cause after the party defied the odds and won a seat, stripping Republicans of the ability in an evenly divided Senate to pull them through hoops. additional to bring a candidate to a floor vote.

“We made it easier with the 51-49 Senate,” Schumer said in his leadership office on Capitol Hill.

However, he acknowledged that Biden will need many justices to retire from active duty over the next two years in order to have enough vacancies to fill. “There will be a lot,” Schumer said. «If the pattern works, we could get there.»

One drawback for Democrats is the tradition of the «blue slip,» which allows home-state senators to block district court judge nominations. Republicans removed the rule for circuit court nominees when it became a stumbling block. Now some progressives are pushing Democrats to end district court nominees as well, to remove a barrier to Biden filling judicial vacancies in red states. Durbin has resisted the idea, but warned the Republican Party against abusing the rule.

Republicans do not have the votes to detain Biden’s picks on the floor unless they remove at least two Democrats. But some of them want the GOP to be more aggressive in making its case against the kinds of judges the president is appointing.

«I hope our side wants to show some determination,» Hawley said. «I hope we take the opportunity on our side to really make the case against some of these people.»

And with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives offering little legislative common ground, the Senate over the next two years could become a judicial confirmation factory.

“If the Republicans would like to slow us down to accomplish that, a great way to do that would be to introduce compelling legislation that will compete for time on the floor,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. “If we have almost nothing else to do on the floor, then the number of judges we will confirm will probably hit an all-time high.”

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